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Which parts should I upgrade? $400 budget

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March 4, 2009 11:56:21 PM

Hey guys, about a year ago this community helped me decide on my parts for the current build I have, and I'm very appreciative of it. Now I have another question: Upgrading. This is the build:

Intel Q6600- stock speed 2.4ghz
Arctic Cooler 7
Coolermaster CM690 case
OCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI 700W
ASUS P5K-E/WIFI-AP LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX
CORSAIR XMS2 4x1gb cas-4 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
eVGA GeForce 8800gts 512mb g92
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s

Right now, I also have Vista Business 32bit and an LG Flattron 24" monitor at 1920x1200.

I play WoW right now mainly, and am having trouble keeping up really high FPS during raids. I raid and play at 1920x1200 and have most everything at low settings, because I always drop to like 18-30 fps from a constant 55-65fps during anything over a 5 man instance. It's a bit frustrating, because I thought my system could very easily max out WoW. I would like to start playing Starcraft 2 and maybe Diablo 3 when they come out, which from what I've heard will be moderately taxing on the computers.

I've been thinking about maybe OC'ing my cpu, but I'm a little bit scared to as I've never done it before. Also, I've thought about getting a hold of a 64 bit OS so that all 4 gigs are recognized. Other things are getting 2x2gb's of better ram, or a better CPU/GPU. Meh, I'm just not sure where I should move onto right now, but any help you guys could give me would be great. Thanks!!S
March 5, 2009 12:03:17 AM

I would definitely consider overclocking. I would invest in a good CPU cooler like the xigy dark knight -

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you have any of the paste left over, clean off the CPU and reapply the paste when installing the new cooler. There are some good overclocking guides for the 775 processors around and it's relatively straightforward to achieve a decent overclock.

I would use the rest of the money to invest in a new video card. Something like the 4870 1gb. Hopefully this one will come back in stock soon -

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I don't think an upgrade to a 64-bit OS is necessary since WoW should not require more than 3gb of RAM. Someone else may correct me on this however.
March 5, 2009 12:47:53 AM

Okay, so OC'ing and a new GPU. Is the 4870 1gb necessary? I suppose I don't really know a whole lot about GPU's, but is there a cheaper alternative that is still a moderate upgrade to my 8800gts 512mb? Is the 4850 1gb or one of the 9800's 1gb an acceptable alternative? I suppose with all my resources on this website and from friends that I have that OC'd I'll be able to OC without TOO much trouble. But I guess I'll do my research on GPU's, or if there are WoW benchmarks/ older gpu benchmarks so I can compare my 8800gts 512 to some of the 4850's and 9800's I'd love to see them :D  Thanks again.
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March 5, 2009 1:05:33 AM

I believe the issue is that you're running at 1920x1200. Generally higher resolutions require more GPU memory.
March 5, 2009 1:24:04 AM

that price for a 4870 is crazy. Prices were supposed to be dropping to $150 any day. But that would be for the 512mb version mind you. But kicks ass in that price range.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
Check there daily for a good price break. Still could go with the 1gb version too.
Also OC'n that CPU up to around 3ghz would definitely help
March 5, 2009 4:02:33 AM

The best gaming upgrade will definitely be the GPU, I'd go with a HD 4850x2, it shines at higher resolutions like the one you are playing at. Whatever you do, go for an ATI card so that you can go xfire later on, since you have one of the best xfire mobo's around.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Do wait a couple weeks though, as ATI is slashing the prices on their HD 4800 series cards. You might even be able to afford a 4870x2 if they feel any of the price cuts. Keep your eyes on this card:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Overclocking is a free CPU upgrade and will definitely help you a little bit when gaming, however a GPU upgrade will give you the best gaming results.
March 5, 2009 5:15:38 PM

xthekidx is right. first and foremost, get you a better GPU. the suggestion of the 4850x2 is actually what i've thought about buying to put into my recent upgrade. but if the prices are gonna drop in a couple weeks...and you're strictly limited to $400, then wait.

The other upgrade I'd suggest (within that $400, considering u buy something ~$250 like that 4850x2) would be to get you a better performing HDD, like a couple 500 or 640 Seagate 7200.11s or WD black ...or even consider getting you the 150GB WD Velociraptor (while it's got a rebate?) :lol: 

That Q6600 is a great CPU tho. I got friends all over the world tellin me how they water cool that thing and overclock it like crazy.

Makes me kinda jealous :fou:  :lol: 
March 5, 2009 5:24:40 PM

I think I'd start off with upgrading to vista 64x. That way you'll actually be able to see all your ram/vidoe ram. I mean you can get a vidoe card that has more ram, but its not going to see it since the 32 bit os is already maxed out with what it can handle.
March 5, 2009 6:17:59 PM

Upgrading to 64bit would be the next step I would take after those suggestions I made.

It is my understanding that if you use a 32bit OS, then you get as much Video ram as your GPU has to offer, and then fill the rest of the 4 gigs with system ram. So if you get a 2gb video card, you will see 2gb of video ram and 2 gb of system ram, a 1gb video card will give you 1gb of video ram, and 3gb of system ram. Gaming performance will see the biggest increase from getting a better GPU, then better CPU, then more system ram. I think you can just buy an upgrade for your current version of vista to get a 64 bit, however I have no idea how much that costs. If that can fit in your budget, then by all means do it.
March 5, 2009 6:24:34 PM

Is the "Arctic Cooler 7" that you have listed the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro CPU cooler? If it is then that cooler should allow you to get a pretty decent overclock on you CPU. If you do not have a CPU cooler, then I suggest you get this one for overclocking your CPU:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So my suggestions for you to get the best gaming upgrade:
1. Get a Better GPU, The 4850x2 that I linked would do very well on your setup
2. Overclock the CPU using a good CPU cooler, The Q6600 overclocks like a champion and you have paired it nicely with one of the best Overclocking mobo's around
3. Vista 64 upgrade. I think all you need to do is pay Microsoft for shipping and they will mail you a 64bit version of vista and you can reuse your product key, however I'm not certain about that.

I think you should be able to afford all of these upgrades on your budget. Your system will see a major increase in gaming performance with these upgrades.
March 6, 2009 1:59:07 AM

@xthekidx

Yes the vidoe ram fills the space up before the ram does.
March 6, 2009 2:39:03 AM

Btw part of it is WoW itself.

Most of their 25 man raid dungeons are very poorly rendered such as Naxxramas. So even with one of the BEST computers out there you will experience a drop in FPS in naxx.

Now you have a better comp then I do by far and wide. Except i have a better gpu and i play on Max settings (tho your reso is a bit higher im at 1680x1050) and i have similar FPS in naxx. However your 50-60 constant sounds weird? I have 50+ at max settings...

My computer is a
Pentium D 945 3.4ghz stock
1gb DDR2 556mhz ram
Geforce 9800GTX+ 1gb DDR3 Ram GPU

my only guess is your GPU is bottleknecking you somewhat. But even still its partially the game that is poorly programmed/optimized.
March 6, 2009 2:54:46 AM

First thing i'd do in your shoes is overclock the Q6600. A cheap and easy way to get better performance. After you've done that and if your still not happy with your performance THEN upgrade your graphic card. At your resolution my choices would be a HD4870 1GB or the HD4850x2 mentioned by xxthekidxx.
March 6, 2009 3:45:28 AM

One thing to note about the suggestions of running a 4850x2 or 4870x2... with these setups, you CANNOT run in Windowed Mode unless you want to be using your card to only half of its potential, as Crossfire will not operate in Windowed Mode. I don't know how much this will matter for someone such as yourself running just 1 monitor, but for me, having my mouse stuck in the main monitor is making me highly consider returning my 4870x2 and 4670 and grabbing a GTX285 to run with the 9600GT I have from my previous rig. Le sigh.
March 6, 2009 12:53:14 PM

Overclock your CPU first, then see what happens. It should handle 3.0ghz with ease, as long as you have a good cooler. That old 8800GTS G92 card is not that bad, in fact it is still a top performer for a single card solution today. You would need to move to a 4850x2 or a 4870x2 to feel like you got much of an upgrade over it. Although for the res you are running, a dual card solution could be a pretty impressive plus.
Also, download Rivatuner, your 8800 will overclock like a demon very, very easily.
Stock is 650, 675 core if it is a factory overclocked card. Leave the shader and core clock linked together, and bump the core to around 750-775mhz. Leave the memory clock alone, it is sensitive. Your card will run at this overclock forever no problems, and along with a processor overclock, will give you a huge boost. Try it first, before you spend any money. You'll be surprised what that old rig can do.
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